Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oxford Diocese Intro Downplays Covenant

The Diocese of Oxford recently placed the two-page “Introduction to the Anglican Covenant Debate” on its Web site. The document is intended to inform the discussion about the Anglican Covenant that will be held by the Diocesan Synod. (The document has been added to the Resources page of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition Web site.)

The document, written by Canon John Rees, is a great disappointment. Being as short as it is, of course, it can hardly be comprehensive. It suffers from two more significant problems, however. First, it downplays the significance of the Covenant decision, saying little about Covenant controversies or even suggesting that the decision is a momentous one. In the main discussion, the only hint that there might be reasons to reject the covenant is the observation that conservatives think the disciplinary provisions too weak and liberals find them too strong. The implication seems to be that Section 4 must be about right.

The second problem with “Introduction” is its failure to point readers to a broad selection of commentary on the Covenant. Only five references are given, most of them Church of England documents that view the Covenant as an unalloyed good. Why did Rees not reference our own Resources page? (The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.) Rees did not even reference favorable material that at least tries to come to grips with objections to the Covenant.

Read the Oxford document. What do you think?

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Blogger JimB said...

I do not know the good Canon and I am aware of the pressure that can accrue from proximity to archbishops who think bullying subordinates is somehow moral. So I won't suggest this is his best work.

The paper is terrible. It is one sided, ignores an entire body of literature, and miss-characterizes the Covenant as some sort of benign evolution of the polity, which it definitely is not.

Over all, a shamefully bad piece of writing.


August 26, 2011 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

I'm in agreement with your assessment. See my fuller comments here.

August 31, 2011 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger Marshall Scott said...

The Oxford document does indeed gloss over important issues. One of those is in fact Canon Rees' assertion that "nothing will change," in that "it doesn't affect the autonomy of member churches." In fact, the document is conflicted within its own terms, not mandating changes but explicitly expecting changes to be made.

I also think it a loss not to note that, in addition to the references to the Marks of Mission, there is implicit reference to the Quadrilateral (and, yes, I know and have pointed out myself that the Quadrilateral is not definitive of what is Anglican; but it is descriptive of what Anglicans would see as the marks of the church catholic, which is necessary for an Anglican body, if not sufficient).

It's concise; but like so many efforts to be concise, some important things get glossed or ignored.

(Also posted at Tobias Haller's In a Godward Direction blog.)

August 31, 2011 at 5:44 PM  

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